Steve Lawler is a definitive DJ and producer; a tastemaker whose sets combine quality house music with the power to move dance floors around the world. In the last few years, he's wowed crowds in such far flung places as Zouk in Singapore, Groovejet in Miami, Twilo in New York and the mighty Space in Ibiza. Courtesy of home, he provided the most groundbreaking sets of the season for many of those lucky enough to hear him. After two months he had been crowned 'King Of Space' by the locals - a rare and well deserved honour.
If one person had to be singled out for Deep South's success it would be none other than top-class resident Steve Lawler. Whose mammoth five-hour sets of chunky house and intoxicating tribal progressive sounds have dragged him into the realms of the superstar DJ, and the club into one of the clubbing success stories of the year. But modest as ever, Steve puts it down to a combination of factors:
"I wouldn't accept that it's all down to me," understates Lawler. "There are a lot of people involved in making that night good. I just do what I do."
Steve Lawler hails from the Midlands, yet there is something distinctly non-territorial in his work. Although loving the atmosphere in the big Saturday nightclubs (he's an ex-resident at Cream), Lawler also refuses to pander to any punter wherever he's spinning, especially at home. Think DJ communism, with equal treatment for all the masses.
" It's rewarding for me to know that so many people are going off to underground music every Friday night across the country. Clubs like home and Renaissance have the best soundsystems and crowds in the UK, and the feeling you get from playing those nights is amazing". Tuning into electronic music from an early age, Steve used to buy Depeche Mode records when he was young, so he obviously loved electronic sounds without even realising it. But it was acid house that really turned Steve on. Tuning avidly in to local pirate PCRL radio station gave Steve a taste for house music, and it wasn't long before his mates were luring him off to warehouse parties. "I was totally blown away by the whole experience: the dark room, the strobes and the atmosphere. The whole thing just blew me away and inspired me to do my own parties."
Which is exactly what he did, putting on a series of illegal parties in a disused tunnel under the M42 between 1990-1994. "The last one was just amazing. We had Tony de Vit playing, and it had just grown from this small party to this huge thing - basically a rave. It was all about town the day before, people running around Birmingham going 'The tunnel's on, the tunnel's on.'"
But it was in Ibiza that Lawler got his first true break. Having earned his Ibiza stripes - he's been every year since 1990 through to 1997 it was finally Steve's chance to prove himself as an accomplished DJ. He was a resident at Café Mambo, spinning his legendary 8 hour sets there every day, as well as playing three times a week at Pacha. It was then he was spotted by Darren Hughes, then of Cream, who recognised his talent and ambition to succeed. Signing him up to Cream's DJing agency, he began a residency at the eponymous Liverpool institution. At only his second date at the club he had to follow Paul Oakenfold at their NYE party. Not an easy feat, but one which Lawler coped with admirably. The rest, as they say, is history…
It's not all about DJing though. Lawler's accomplished production, under the monikers of Novocane, Chameleon and, naturally, Steve Lawler, are currently causing mayhem amongst the likes of Tenaglia, Tong, Sasha, Digweed, Deep Dish, and Pete Heller. 'Rise In', his latest single, is a self-assured cut of heavy dancefloor pressure, which, as with all the best things, has simplicity as its key. Watch it drop on any dancefloor in the world and you realise that Lawler, in his production as much as his DJing, understands how to work a crowd. 'Rise In' is set for a September release, and if you've been near any of the coolest dance floors on the planet, you'll have realised just how special the track is. The buzz around the tune has superceded any of this summer's releases, and the Top 20 beckons. Who'd have thought proper house music would once again reach such heights? But then, as most of you know, Lawler is something very special.
"First and foremost I am a DJ," explains Steve. "I am not making records for a career or the money, it's just that I want to make my own version of sounds that would go down well in a club. When I make music I sit there and close my eyes and imagine being on a dancefloor, with the lights and the soundsytem. It's hard to get right all the time, but I'm going to keep banging away at it until I do".
Which is pretty much Steve Lawler for you. A hardworking Midlands lad who has never taken the easy path to success. From his mammoth sets at Space in Ibiza, or his tendency to re-edit half the tracks in his box, Steve certainly knows the meaning of graft: "I do a lot of my own re-edits, because I get sent so many records where its all good and then some horrible break kicks in. So I just cut that bit out, get it on to CD and then go and get a slate cut. It's the way forward. It means that a lot of records that people might have, I have my own versions of them. It makes it unique, which you have to do these days. There's 1001 DJs out there. It's probably one of the reasons why I have actually got somewhere…I do make the effort."
Steve's spun at every club in Ibiza, and every decent club in the world, and has stunned all detractors of the progressive sound. He was described in The Face as, "The UK's Tenaglia", and in Jockey Slut as "one of the best dj's in the world".
Steve Lawler: the pioneer of twisted house who loves a bit of hard work. If you were waiting for a change of musical tack, then follow Lawler's lead. Don't be left behind…